The Haram Shake: a protest movement

by Toby Manhire / 14 March, 2013
The Harlem Shake dance has earned a cameo in the Arab Spring, a symbol of defiance against Islamist authorities.

The Pyramids Harlem Shake.


The silly, bouncy, bass-heavy song Harlem Shake may have been swiftly written off by critics, their ears still ringing from the last online dance meme Gangnam Style.

But it has, all the same, earned itself at least a footnote in the digital-revolution chapter of the Arab Spring chronicles.

When Tunisian authorities cracked down on students recording a Harlem Shake, it suddenly became potent.


“Young Egyptian activists, emulating their Tunisian counterparts, turned the internet dance meme into a mode of protest,” reports the Egyptian Al-Ahram Weekly, “against the [ruling party] the Muslim Brotherhood in particular, and militant Islam in general.”

Hundreds of demonstrators have gathered outside the Brotherhood headquarters to perform, flash-mob-style, the hip-swivelling routine.

The protesters call themselves the Satiric Revolutionary Struggle, explains Amar Toor at the website the Verge, “an opposition group devoted to making political statements through humorous demonstrations”.



"We were tired of the protests and the blood and the martyrs," group organiser Mahmoud Tabei tells the Verge.

“Dancing in the street is something abnormal in Egyptian society. People say it is morally bad — 'Oh, that’s un-Islamic!' So that’s why we chose Harlem Shake, because it’s this kind of behaviour that the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists consider haram [forbidden by Islamic law]."


And the name of the user who uploaded one of the most popular Egyptian versions, shot against a backdrop of the pyramids? Haram Shake.



MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage


Politicians aren’t talking to us this election year, but to Winston Peters
71902 2017-04-28 14:08:09Z Politics

Politicians aren’t talking to us this election yea…

by Jane Clifton

We don't want any David Cunliffe cod-bogan attempts to get down with the peeps, but MPs seem to be going way too far in the other direction this year.

Read more
9th Floor: Jenny Shipley on how 'middle class welfare' is morally bankrupt
71856 2017-04-28 09:53:00Z Politics

9th Floor: Jenny Shipley on how 'middle class welf…

by Guyon Espiner

Dame Jenny Shipley on being the first woman Prime Minister, plus coups and coalitions, welfare reform and Winston Peters.

Read more
Win a double pass to exclusive screening of McLaren
71854 2017-04-28 09:39:24Z Win

Win a double pass to exclusive screening of McLare…

by The Listener

McLaren is the definitive tale of New Zealander Bruce McLaren, who created a motor racing empire from his shed.

Read more
Win a double pass to Doc Edge Festival
71847 2017-04-28 09:30:01Z Win

Win a double pass to Doc Edge Festival

by The Listener

Doc Edge Festival is one of Australasia’s premier international documentary film festivals.

Read more
First look: Poké Poké
Health Minister dismisses chocolate fundraiser ban
71842 2017-04-28 09:07:08Z Nutrition

Health Minister dismisses chocolate fundraiser ban…

by RNZ

Should schools be selling chocolate to raise funds? The Health Minister says it's ok, but nutrition experts disagree.

Read more
Film review: Denial
71718 2017-04-28 00:00:00Z Movies

Film review: Denial

by Peter Calder

The dramatisation of a Holocaust denier’s libel suit is both engrossing and moving.

Read more
Danish dramas versus Kiwi soaps
71634 2017-04-28 00:00:00Z Television

Danish dramas versus Kiwi soaps

by Jeremy Rose

A quarter of Denmark's population regularly watch Danish TV dramas, while the highest-rating Kiwi drama attracted an audience of just over 250,000.

Read more